We head for the mountains. Our ride is mostly quiet, which provides me with a perfect opportunity to immerse myself in the beauty of nature around us.
Because of the kind of life I've had so far, I quickly learned to enjoy the simple things. I wonder if it's the same for the Commander. My curiosity is peaked, so I voice my question.
- Erwin, do you fancy these peaceful moments? Actually, now that I think about it, I've never asked you what kind of things you enjoy in your life.
It's silly, how little I actually know about you, outside of your position in the military.
The Commander smiles at me.
- Don't worry about such trivial matters, my dear. This is the world we live in, and sadly it revolves mainly around titans.
- But I still want to know more about you!
A tinge of guilt runs through my body. I am filled with all of these feelings for someone I don't even know well enough. So foolish.
"That's why I need to learn more about the person Erwin Smith."
In my distraction, the man in question steals a brief kiss from me.
- You are deep in thought once more, Desi.
- E-erwin, someone might see us!
- I don't mind. And if you want to learn more about me, feel free to ask. I'll make sure to answer your questions.
- Hmm, in that case, what are your dreams, Erwin? Is there something you want more than anything?
The Commander grows silent for a bit. I can't read his expression. He is weighing his words carefully, it seems. Makes me wonder what could be so hard to vocalize.
- My dreams, huh...?
A short pause.
- I do have one.
I listen carefully to the Commander's words. They flow slowly, each one of them in a tone that suggests a big secret being revealed.
- When I was very young, my father was killed because of me.
An unsettling feeling awakens in the pit of my stomach.
- You see, he was a teacher - a very smart person. He had his own theory about our world, and one night he shared it with me. I was absorbing every single word he uttered.
Honestly, I was very fascinated. In fact, in the end my very fascination turned out to be his demise.
The Commander grows silent once more. I can imagine the painful thoughts going through him.
- It's alright if you don't wish to say anymore. I don't want you to go back to such unpleasant memories.
- No, it's okay, I will continue my story. Back then I was just a foolish and naive kid.
I thought my father's theories and ideas were too special to be kept secret, and everyone else needs to learn them as well. So I told the rest of the class.
They probably told their parents as well, because the next day my father was arrested and killed for treason. Afterwards, I made a decision and enrolled in the military.
What should I even say? I have no idea. He was only a child, and had to carry such a big weight on his shoulders.
- At the same time I made it my life's mission to realize my father's dream. That's the least I can do for him. I hope that this way I'll be forgiven. Wait, why are you crying, Desi?
Erwin stops the horse.
- I can't help it!!
I bite my lips in embarrassment, and look down. Of course I would cry! My heart swells in pain for Erwin. I actually feel lucky for losing my memory.
- Please, don't cry, otherwise I might cry as well.
- No! I'm sorry, I'll stop.
I try my best to wipe the tears away. Erwin takes a hold of my face, and lifts it up, so I can look at him.
- Hey, you don't need to cry for my sake. I don't want that, and I don't need it. The last thing I desire is for you to cry because of me. I only want to see your beautiful smile.
Will you do that for me, my dear girl?
- Of course!
I manage a smile. I'm not sure how successful it actually is, but the Commander seems satisfied.
- That's better.
I grab his hands in mine.
- I promise...I promise that I will do everything in my power to help your dream come true. I will work hard, and learn everything I can about my power. I hope...
No, I'm sure we can take Wall Maria back. No matter what task you require of me, I will do my best.
Desi's words filled Erwin Smith with resentment at his very self. He felt like a hypocrite.
How could he betray the one person, who is willing to sacrifice herself completely for his sake?
Her intentions were pure, while his own were clouded by the only desire, which has been moving his life so far. Desi didn't deserve to be lied to.
But the truth was a luxury Erwin Smith wasn't ready for. He was afraid he might lose her, if she ever learns of his true nature.
Of course, there was no way he could be completely certain of her reaction, but he refused to take such risk.
As much as she cared for him, and that was a lot, he knew that much, every person had a breaking point.
- I appreciate your efforts, my dear, but you don't need to do all of this for me. You should do it for yourself, and follow your own goals.
I don't want you to regret your choices, because you made them for someone else...
- I don't regret anything, and I never will. So, please don't say such things anymore, Erwin.
In Desi's eyes he could see a confirmation of her words - they were also filled with determination.
"Yes, definitely similar to Levi."
A broad smile makes its way on the Commander's lips, and I feel the tension finally leave his body.
- Maybe you should be the Commander, instead of me.
- Oh, no, I don't think I can handle a position like that. At least not any time soon, I still have a lot to learn.
"If I even live that long", I think to myself.
We are moving once more, and I can already spot the mountains. I actually see smoke coming from that same direction.
- Seems like Hanji-san and Eren have already started.
- I'm not even a bit surprised. This is Hanji we're talking about, after all.
I chuckle slightly. Once we arrive, I am greeted by a Hanji-san that seems more enthusiastic than usual, and I am curious to learn why. She calls out to us.
- Hey, you two, you need to see this!
And she gestures for us to follow her. I get down from the horse, and move in the direction of the smoke we saw on our way.
It's already dispersing, and I finally start to notice what she's pointing at.
- Oh, my, he did it!
I turn to Erwin.
- Erw... - I clear my throat - Commander! Eren did it! He succeeded in hardening his titan!